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Aug. 2, 2021

Spartans step up to support the university during the pandemic and beyond

Despite economic uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan State University received $232.2 million in gifts and pledges between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. Of the 70,512 donors, approximately 15% were new donors to the university.

“I want to offer my thanks and appreciation to every donor in the Spartan community for their generosity and partnership,” said President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “The sustaining support of our donors is key to student success and to ensuring that MSU continues to educate the next generation, improve the world around us and create a better tomorrow for us all.”

When compared to the previous fiscal year, the total represents a 20% increase in research funding, 20% increase in faculty support and an 18% increase in programs that directly support students.

“For many of our donors, the pandemic heightened the importance of the impact MSU makes as a major research institution with a land-grant mission,” said Marti K.S. Heil, vice president for University Advancement. “Spartans were eager to support the immediate needs of our most vulnerable students as well as contribute to our faculty-led research, which looks to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges.”

In fiscal year 2021, donor gifts supported immediate student needs and causes that reached across the entire Spartan community. For example, gifts supported pandemic-related needs such as emergency resources for students with unexpected financial stress and relief projects like sanitizing N95 masks, which supported frontline health care workers early in the pandemic.

Approximately 80% of all dollars raised came from 265 donors who made gifts of $100,000 or more. Some of the most notable investments included:

  • $32 million to Athletics from Mat Ishbia - the largest single cash commitment from an individual in MSU history
  • An eight-figure grant from the Gilbert Family Foundation in partnership with the Rock Family of Companies to support an MSU partnership with Apple to bring the first Apple Developer Academy to North America
  • $6.6 million in the form of seven grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the arts and humanities

A significant number of alumni showed their Spartan pride giving more than $98.7 million, a 39% increase from the previous fiscal year. Contributions from current faculty and staff also increased 55% from the previous year representing $21 million of the total.

In the 2020-21 fiscal year, philanthropic support of MSU’s donors rivaled totals previously raised only during the years of the university’s Empower Extraordinary campaign, which concluded in 2018 and saw annual giving totals ranging from $215 to $272 million.

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